Tag Archive for: innovation

The Escola Europea Celebrates Strategic Partnership in Nouakchott, Mauritania

This strategic partnership signifies a pivotal moment in enhancing cooperation and reinforcing maritime transport and logistics ties between Europe and Africa for the Escola and its partners.

From left to right, Abdelatif Lhouaoui ANP, Sidi Mohamed Maham, representing the Friendship Port of Nouakchott, and Eduard Rodés from the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

In a symbolically charged ceremony, Mr. Sidi Mohamed Maham, on behalf of the Friendship Port of Nouakchott (Le Port de l’Amitié de Nouakchott – PANPA), Mr. Abdelatif Lhouaoui representing the National Ports Agency of Morocco (Agence Nationale des Ports – ANP), and Mr. Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport, have forged a tripartite agreement. This agreement aims to be a catalyst for enhancing international trade education, logistics and port operations, as well as education and management in the region, aligning their efforts with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The initiative, named “Mare Nostrum Atlantique,” underscores the critical role of quality education, the creation of respectable employment opportunities, and the promotion of sustainable economic growth. It prioritizes vocational training in logistics and international trade and actively encourages the sharing of knowledge and best practices among port communities.

The agreement’s signing was further highlighted by the presence and contribution of Mr. Jordi Torrent, Secretary-General of the MEDports Association. His remarks underscored the significance of a collaborative protocol between three association members, setting a new benchmark for collective commitment to excellence and innovation in port and logistics services.

The Escola brings to the table its extensive expertise in specialized training and skill development, ensuring port staff remain at the cutting edge of industry innovations and technologies.

This agreement marks a significant step forward in fostering a stronger and more effective partnership between the parties, with a shared aim of promoting economic growth and environmental sustainability in their respective regions.

Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport Forges Strategic Partnership with STC Group to Enhance Intermodal Training Opportunities

In the photo (left to right): Ramon van Hal, lecturer and specialist in port logistics; Hans Wentink, Director, STC Group; Eduard Rodés, Director, Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport; Marta Miquel, Chief Business Officer, Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

The Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport, a renowned European centre for logistics and intermodal transport training, is proud to announce a new partnership with the STC Group, the main training institute in the Port of Rotterdam led by its Director, Hans Wentink, and supported by Ramon van Hal, a distinguished Lecturer specialising in port logistics.

This dynamic collaboration marks the framework for a collaboration which started seven years ago and it is now stated as key for both institutions. This agreement defines a journey to enrich the intermodal training landscape by bringing together two influential institutions dedicated to education and industry excellence.

Eduard Rodés, Director of the Escola Europea, expressed his enthusiasm for this collaboration, stating, “We are thrilled to join forces with the STC Group. This partnership opens up vast opportunities for students in Rotterdam and Barcelona, allowing them to explore the intricacies of maritime and intermodal transport. Together, we aim to foster innovation and cultivate the next generation of logistics leaders.”

During a day of intensive discussions and facility presentations, the Escola Europea team showcased their facilities to the Dutch experts. The result of these fruitful deliberations is a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that outlines several key objectives:

  • Establishing an institutional framework to facilitate collaboration on international and European projects, aimed at developing new training programmes and enhancing student mobility between the two countries.
  • Sharing best practices within the framework of the Port Logistics International Knowledge Academy – PLIKA, in collaboration with other network partners.
  • Strengthening cooperation in the fields of human resources development and youth training, recognizing their pivotal role in shaping the future of logistics.

The collaboration will focus on a diverse range of training areas, including foreign trade, sustainable development, freight forwarding, intermodal transport, port logistics, energy transition, and distribution logistics.

The Escola Europea specialises in courses in the Mediterranean designed for current and future professionals responsible for managing logistics chains, offering cost-effective alternatives in terms of service, cost, and time. In contrast, the STC Group brings extensive expertise in higher education focused on transport and port operations. This partnership provides a comprehensive training proposition in intermodal freight transport, offering students a wealth of opportunities to excel.

The Escola Europea prides itself in employing an experiential learning methodology, combining theoretical instruction with hands-on facility visits to introduce the concept of ‘co-modality’ as a tool for improving transport management. With access to port and rail facilities, students gain first-hand insights into intermodal logistics and transport operations. Furthermore, the Escola’s Port Virtual Lab, an innovative and comprehensive platform, offers cutting-edge technological and educational tools, enabling international trade, logistics, and transport students and professionals to simulate real-life operations and access a wide range of resources to enhance their knowledge and skills.

As a prominent educational institution, the STC Group is a household name in the world of shipping, transport, logistics, and the process industry in Rotterdam and beyond. The organisation is dedicated to providing high-quality education and training to learners of all ages and actively participates in European knowledge projects, contributing to the development of future professional requirements and educational programmes.

Empowering Port Communities: The Remarkable Journey of the YEP MED Project

Eduard Rodés, Director - Escola Europea - Intermodal Transporrt

Written by: Eduard Rodés,
Director – Escola Europea – Intermodal Transporrt

These days, we are celebrating the successful completion of the YEP MED project, an ambitious initiative aimed at aligning the skills needs of the labor market with vocational education and training opportunities in Mediterranean port logistics communities. Led by the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport, this project has played a pivotal role in creating employment opportunities, particularly for NEETs (young people not in employment, education, or training) and women within the region. Let’s delve into the project’s inception, its remarkable outcomes, and its aspirations for the future.

A Journey of Collaboration and Excellence

The YEP MED project began its journey by setting high standards for itself. Out of 184 projects submitted for consideration, it was rated as the top project, setting a significant challenge to excel and deliver outstanding results. Involving seven countries from the Mediterranean region, the project fostered collaboration between vocational training providers, private sector representatives, and public administrations at local and international levels. The active participation of all partner organizations from these seven countries was a remarkable achievement, underscoring the project’s commitment to inclusivity and collective progress.

Identifying Critical Skill Priorities

Within the logistics communities, the YEP MED project identified three critical skill areas that would shape the future of the industry:

  1. Digitalization of Management and Information Processes: Responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the project prioritized digitalizing maritime and terrestrial operations for efficiency, transparency, and resilience in logistics.
  2. Environmental and Sustainability Aspects: With an emphasis on ecological impact, the project aimed to design sustainable logistics chains to minimize the industry’s environmental footprint.
  3. Collaborative Approach and Knowledge Sharing: By fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing, the project sought to drive industry-wide progress and competitiveness.

 Empowering Individuals and Communities

The YEP MED project successfully achieved its objectives, positively impacting port communities and empowering individuals within the sector. It developed tailored vocational resources, enhanced employment skills, and established collaborative partnerships to ensure the sustainability and long-term impact of its efforts. Through various training courses and internships, it significantly contributed to enhancing employability and creating job opportunities for young individuals and women in the sector.

International Collaboration and Global Aspirations

International collaboration was a cornerstone of the project’s success, enabling the exchange of ideas, innovation, and best practices. Looking ahead, the YEP MED project aspires to extend its impact beyond the Mediterranean region and become a global reference for port industry initiatives. The project’s recognition as a finalist for the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) award for Best Initiative in Port Community Building further validates its significance and sets an example for other port initiatives worldwide.

Epilogue

The YEP MED project stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and dedication in shaping the future of port logistics communities. By empowering individuals and fostering sustainable growth, it has become a guiding star for navigators in the port industry. As we move forward, let us join hands in harnessing the potential of our training centers and ports, embracing innovation and collaboration, and fulfilling the needs and aspirations of our society. Together, we can achieve the impossible and create a future where port communities thrive, and opportunities are accessible to all.

Arificial Intellince

#BlueInnovation: AI – what’s the maritime hype?

Arificial Intellince

In an era where artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm, its influence is slowly infiltrating all aspects of our society. From healthcare to finance, AI is revolutionizing industries. The maritime sector is no exception. With advancements in technology, AI is transforming maritime transport, leading to improved safety, operational efficiency, and sustainability. In this article, we explore how AI is making waves in the maritime sector and its potential implications.

AI applications in the maritime sector are vast. These include autonomous ships and AI-driven navigation systems that optimize vessel routes, minimize fuel consumption, and enhance safety. AI-powered monitoring and predictive analysis systems contribute to improved maritime safety and security by detecting and mitigating potential risks. Smart port management systems leverage AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) to streamline operations, reduce congestion, and optimize resource allocation. Machine Learning makes it all possible. Additionally, AI plays a crucial role in promoting environmental sustainability by optimizing fuel consumption, reducing emissions, and developing cleaner propulsion systems.

Let us take a closer look at some of those:

AI-Driven Navigation and Autonomous Ships:

One of the most profound impacts of AI in the maritime industry is the development of autonomous ships and AI-driven navigation systems. These cutting-edge technologies leverage machine learning algorithms and real-time data to optimize vessel routes, minimize fuel consumption, and enhance safety. AI algorithms analyse historical and real-time data, including weather conditions, traffic patterns, and navigational hazards, to make informed decisions and guide ships more efficiently. This not only reduces human error but also improves operational efficiency, lowers costs, and reduces the industry’s carbon footprint.

Enhancing Maritime Safety and Security:

AI-powered systems are also being used to enable advanced monitoring and predictive analyses. Through the integration of AI algorithms with sensors, cameras, and radar systems, ships can detect and track potential risks in real-time. The computers can help analyse vast amounts of data and identify patterns to predict potential collisions, piracy threats, or hazardous weather conditions. This proactive approach allows for timely responses and mitigates risks, thereby ensuring the safety of crew members, vessels, and cargo.


Machine Learning

Machine learning, a subset of AI, is a critical component in the maritime sector’s transformation. Through machine learning algorithms, ships and port management systems can learn from vast amounts of data, adapt to changing conditions, and make intelligent decisions. Machine learning models analyze historical and real-time data to identify patterns, trends, and anomalies. These insights enable proactive decision-making, such as predicting maintenance needs, optimizing routes, and improving operational efficiency. Machine learning also empowers maritime professionals to make data-driven decisions, improving their situational awareness and enhancing overall performance. By continuously learning and adapting, machine learning algorithms drive innovation and pave the way for more efficient and optimized maritime operations.

Smart Port Management

Ports play a crucial role in the maritime sector, and AI is transforming how they operate. Smart port management systems leverage AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimize operations, reduce congestion, and enhance efficiency. AI algorithms analyse data from various sources, such as vessel traffic, cargo handling, and terminal operations, to streamline processes. This enables better resource allocation, optimal berth assignments, and improved supply chain management. By reducing waiting times, optimizing logistics, and improving overall efficiency, AI-powered smart ports contribute to cost savings and a more sustainable maritime sector.

Environmental Sustainability

AI is also instrumental in promoting environmental sustainability within the maritime industry. With growing concerns surrounding climate change, AI-driven technologies are being used to optimize fuel consumption, reduce emissions, and develop cleaner propulsion systems. Machine learning algorithms analyze data from multiple sources, including weather conditions, vessel performance, and fuel consumption patterns, to optimize routes and minimize energy usage. AI-powered systems can also identify potential maintenance issues, leading to proactive repairs and minimizing environmental impact.

Final thoughts

As AI continues to revolutionize the maritime sector, its impact on safety, efficiency, and sustainability is undeniable. Autonomous ships, AI-driven navigation systems, enhanced safety measures, smart port management, and environmental sustainability are just a few examples of how AI is transforming the industry, optimising operations and reducing costs (both financial and environmental). In the future we can expect things like improved predictive analytics, enhanced situational awareness, and increased automation. While AI presents exciting opportunities, it is crucial to address ethical considerations, data privacy concerns, and regulatory frameworks to ensure responsible AI implementation in the maritime sector. With the continued integration of AI, the maritime industry is set to sail into a future marked by unprecedented efficiency, safety, and sustainability. Are we ready for it?

 

More reading:

Immersive learning

Electronic Bills of Lading

Digital documents

Lately there has been a lot of hype about electronic Bills of Lading, which is why we wanted to get back to basics and go over this innovation. So let’s get down to it:

What is the eBL?

The Electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) is an electronic version of the traditional paper-based Bill of Lading used in the shipping industry. The Bill of Lading is a legal document that serves as evidence of the contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier, proof of ownership, and acts as a receipt for the goods being transported. In the past, it was always a paper document, but with the advancement of technology, it is now possible to issue transmit, and store it electronically.

The eBL has the potential to revolutionize the shipping industry by reducing the time and cost of handling physical documents, eliminating the risk of loss or damage to paper documents, and enabling faster and more secure transactions. However, the adoption of eBLs has been slow due to various legal, technical, and commercial challenges.

What are the challenges?

Despite their incredible potential, there are challenges that need to be addressed before eBLs can become more widely adopted in the shipping industry. One of the main challenges is the lack of standardization in the use of eBLs. There are currently multiple electronic platforms and technologies available for the issuance, transfer, and storage of eBLs, which can create confusion and inefficiencies for users.

To address this challenge, various industry associations and standards bodies, such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), have developed guidelines and standards for the use of eBLs. These guidelines aim to promote standardization and interoperability between different electronic platforms and technologies.

A second big challenge is “the difficulty in converting the BL to a digital format without allowing it to be duplicatable (as without proper systems in place it could potentially be duplicated to the infinitum)” – says Jaime Paz from the Ocean Network Express. As the main function of the Bill of Lading is the condition of title of ownership, it is important to ensure that the risk of duplication is minimised or eliminated completely. Today it is possible to have unique digital titles of ownership thanks to blockchain technology, as encryption systems used are strong enough to transfer digital documents without the risk of being duplicated.  As an NFT, eBL is not only a digital file, but the registry of the ownership is implicit in it.  This way, every change in the eBL process can be registered in a blockchain, in which the information is 100% immutable and 100% auditable.

A final challenge is the resistance to change from stakeholders who are accustomed to traditional paper-based processes. Many shippers, carriers, and banks are still hesitant to adopt eBLs due to concerns about the legal validity, security, and reliability of electronic documents.

To address these concerns, industry stakeholders are working to educate and raise awareness about the benefits of eBLs and to provide training and support for users. For example, the International Group of P&I Clubs has developed a training program for its members on the use of eBLs, and various industry associations have organized workshops and seminars to promote the adoption of eBLs. The DCSA (Digital Container Shipping Association) is also working on towards end-to-end digitalisation of the shipping documentation process – having published the DCSA electronic bill of lading (eBL) standards. The goal with these is to ultimately increase transparency, enhance efficiency, and make compliance easier, therewith eliminating paper from international trade.

 

A spotlight on Europe

In recent years, there have been several developments in Europe aimed at promoting the use of eBLs. One of the most significant developments is the adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in 2017. The MLETR provides a framework for the use of electronic transferable records, including eBLs, and aims to remove legal barriers to their use.

Several European countries have already incorporated the MLETR into their domestic laws, including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland. These countries have recognized eBLs as legally valid and enforceable documents, and they have established electronic platforms for the issuance, transfer, and storage of eBLs.

For example, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands launched its blockchain-based platform, DELIVER, in 2019, (now Naviporta) which allows users to issue, transfer, and store eBLs. DELIVER is a joint initiative between the port authority, the municipality of Rotterdam, and various industry stakeholders, and it aims to promote the use of eBLs and other digital solutions in the logistics industry.

Additionally, there have been other developments to help the adoption of eBLs in Europe. One of those was championed by the International Group of P&I Clubs, which represents the world’s major marine insurers. They have issued guidelines for the use of eBLs in the insurance industry, which provide a framework for the issuance, transfer, and storage of eBLs, and they aim to ensure that eBLs are accepted and recognized by insurers.

Final thoughts

Despite the challenges, the adoption of eBLs in Europe is gaining momentum, driven by the potential benefits of faster, cheaper, and more secure transactions. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards digital solutions in the shipping industry, as it has highlighted the inefficiencies and vulnerabilities of traditional paper-based processes.

In conclusion, the Electronic Bill of Lading is a promising technology that has the potential to revolutionize the shipping industry by reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and improving security. While there are still challenges to be addressed, the adoption of eBLs in Europe is gaining momentum, driven by the efforts of industry stakeholders to promote standardization, raise awareness, and provide training and support for users. As the use of eBLs becomes more widespread, it is expected to bring significant benefits to the global economy by facilitating faster and more secure international trade transactions.

More reading:

Port Digitalisation

Maritime Connectivity – what it means for the Mediterranean

Eduard Rodés,Director - Escola Europea - Intermodal Transporrt

Commentary by: Eduard Rodés,
Director – Escola Europea – Intermodal Transporrt

We live in an increasingly digital world – there is no doubt about that. Digital literacy and technical capabilities are skills that are now indispensable in employees in all sectors. But what geographical regions? The situation (in terms of skills, capabilities and infrastructures) in Spain is doubtlessly different from the situation in Tunis, just like the situation in Tunis is different from the situation in Bali. The countries’ individual geopolitical and industrial statuses affect how plugged in the countries can be to the globalised industries.

This brings me to a report that I wanted to share with you that CETMO has carried out on the maritime connectivity in the GTMO region. You can read our brief summary below, and then head to the CETMO website for the full report!

I highly recommend it! 

A summary of the “Maritime Connectivity in the GTMO Region: Current Situation and Future Prospects” report by CETMO

This report was produced by the Centre for Transportation Studies for the Mediterranean Region (CETMO) in collaboration with the Western Mediterranean Group Of Transport Ministries (GTMO 5+5). It examined the current state of maritime connectivity in the GTMO region (which includes countries in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and Caspian Sea areas[1]) and provided recommendations for improvement in the future.

Key Findings:

The GTMO region is a major hub for international maritime trade. Even so, significant gaps in maritime connectivity within the region have been identified, particularly in terms of digital connectivity and the integration of different transport modes. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has highlighted the importance of digital connectivity and the need for greater investment in infrastructure and technology to support remote operations and data exchanges.

The report identified several key challenges and opportunities for improving maritime connectivity in the region:

  1. One of the main challenges is the digital divide between countries in the region, which can hinder the exchange of data and information among different actors in the maritime sector. The report recommended a range of measures, including increasing investment in port and logistics infrastructure, improving digital connectivity and data exchange, promoting the integration of different transport modes, and addressing regulatory barriers;
  2. Another challenge is the fragmentation of transport modes and logistics systems in the region, which can result in inefficiencies and higher costs for shippers and carriers. The report recommended promoting greater integration between different transport modes, such as rail and inland waterways, to improve the connectivity of the region and facilitate the movement of goods.
  3. The report also highlighted the importance of regulatory frameworks in facilitating or hindering maritime connectivity in the region. Some countries have regulatory frameworks that are favourable to investment and trade, while others have more restrictive policies that can discourage investment and limit market access. The report recommended promoting greater regulatory harmonization and cooperation between countries in the region to create a more conducive environment for investment and trade.

Conclusion:

Improving maritime connectivity in the GTMO region is essential for supporting economic growth, improving trade flows, and enhancing the resilience of supply chains in the face of future shocks such as pandemics or geopolitical tensions. To achieve this, a comprehensive approach that considers the diverse needs and capabilities of different countries and stakeholders is needed, one that involves governments, private sector stakeholders, and international organisations. By working together to address the challenges facing maritime connectivity, the region can enhance its economic competitiveness, promote sustainable development, and improve the resilience of its supply chains in the face of future shocks.

[1] Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia

Escola Europea takes a closer look at Technology Transfer Initiatives and Living Labs

With the first six months of the EU-funded TechLog project finishing, the technical aspects of the premise of the project take a more central stage. Orlando Reveco, from the Escola Europea, helps us understand what Technology Transfer Initiatives and Living Labss are in an in-depth interview about these innovative characteristics of research and education.

Q:Can you please tell me a little bit about your background, and how you will be involved in the TechLog project over the next few years?

A: I have had the opportunity of being closely linked to the technological world for many years in which I worked in companies that focus on finding technological solutions for all kinds of issues. Across the development of my professional career, I have also had the opportunity to cooperate in various educational projects. I have seen first-hand how such a cooperation between the use of technology in training activities yields better results and becomes a powerful force that can accelerate economic growth.

TechLog presents an opportunity to expand my knowledge and use my experience to benefit a project oriented in the exchange of technology for the development of an area that is increasingly important. Being part of a team that will help prepare professionals capable of facing the challenges of the coming years and establish a permanent cross-border EU-Med area where organisations and port authorities co-create and share new technology transfers initiatives, is a great personal motivation for me.

Q: Could you explain what Technology Transfer Initiatives and Living Labs are for the “uninitiated”?

A: Technology transfer initiatives are processes that help disseminate technology from the individual or organisation that owns or holds it to another individual or organisation, therewith helping transform inventions and scientific outcomes into new products and services that benefit society at large.

 They represent an invaluable opportunity where knowledge and practice exchanges in professional environments, designed by organisations with a lot of educational experience and logistics operators, will take place and will allow all parties to be part of a project without borders in which they will be able to establish a network and share practical experiences, therewith increasing their chances of success in the future.

 A living lab on the other hand is a research concept, which may be defined as a user-centred, open-innovation ecosystem that integrates contemporaneous research and innovation processes within a public-private-people partnership.

There are no limitations to the advantages that these types of initiative can provide, especially in regional exchange scenarios where the personal development of its participants will inevitably become the success of the objectives proposed by the international project.

Q: The Escola Europea has begun developing the Port Virtual Lab platform over the past two years. How can this platform help TechLog achieve its goals?

A: Port Virtual Lab is a very complete project that offers technological educational development tools. Initially, we talked about a platform that was to be used as a meeting point for all those who have knowledge and professional development needs in the international transportation and logistics environment – and now it has morphed into a teaching tool that is used to replicate real-life port and logistics operations in the Escola’s courses.

 It is for this reason that PortVirtual Lab and TechLog will have no problem working together, as both of them are fundamentally complete tools and platforms that work towards the development of advanced academic content, and which are endorsed by organisations with long and recognised records.

Q: How effective do you think are virtual simulators in imitating reality, especially when it comes to training?

Virtual simulators not only capture the interest of the person who uses them, but in my opinion they can represent a new way of turning hours of theoretical and practical experiences in the classroom into fun experiences – all of which encourage immersive learning.

 Carrying out training for future logistics operators in innovative virtual reality systems allows them to get to know the environment where they will carry out their activities and experience situations that they may probably find but that are difficult to replicate in a real environment – and it does so safely without peril to real-life clients and supply chain operations.

Q: How common would you say is it currently in Mediterranean countries to use simulation practices in the field of transport? What do you think is(are) contributing factors to this?

I am completely sure that it will be an increasingly recurrent practice. The demand for services in the logistics and transport sector in the Mediterranean increases every year and this can only mean that every day more and better-trained personnel will be needed to meet the ever-changing requirements and reach geographical and environmental goals and standards.

Training must be accompanied by a methodology that allows us to focus on the necessary procedures and can be adapted to the work schemes of each port community; it is a flexibility that only the use of systems with these characteristics can offer.

 This is a way to achieve common work operations processes where all Mediterranean members have an equal footing.

Eco-innovation at the heart of Europe

Written by: Lidia Slawinska

Written by: Lidia Slawinska – Digital Communications Manager Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

There is little doubt that innovation is today’s “big thing”. The fast advancement of technologies, the increasing digitalisation taking place across all industries, and the ever-more encompassing dual lives that individuals lead in the physical and digital stratospheres have accelerated innovative progress. At the same time, the world has also began to recognise the importance of sustainability in the protection of our planet and began to plan for alternatives that would help us maintain our current global operations and life-styles whilst diminishing the pejorative impact that they have had on our earth since the Industrial era began.

These two concepts have recently given rise to a new idea – that of “eco-innovation”. In this Blue Innovation article we will look at how the European Union has embraced this concept in efforts to measure and map the progress of its member states in innovative methods to work to achieve the sustainability targets it has set itself for the coming decades.

What is “Eco-Innovation” exactly?

The term, which first appeared in 1996 in a book written by Claude Fussler and Peter James “Driving Eco-Innovation,” can be understood as a general approach to foster environmentally friendly progress in modern societies. At its core are specific efforts made by the parties that aim to reduce the environmental harm done in their societies – be it through ideas, products, societal behaviours, or industrial or operational processes. It is key to the European Union’s Green Deal and towards promoting and ensuring green growth in the 21st century.

The “Eco-Innovation Index”

The European Commission’s Eco-Innovation Plan was first adopted in 2011. In the plan, the Commission defined the term as “any innovation that makes progress towards the goal of sustainable development by reducing impacts on the environment, increasing resilience to environmental pressures or using natural resources more efficiently and responsibly” (Source: Decision N° 1639/2006/EC establishing a Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme – accessed online on 10th Dec 2021). Over the first decade of its existence the Commission created a system to measure the innovative progress of its partners through the Eco-Innovation Index. The subsequent system, which includes the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard alongside the Index, captures the varying aspects of the member states’ eco-innovations by measuring 16 different indicators that are grouped into 5 categories:

  • Eco-innovation inputs (this includes government environmental energy investments and outlays, total number of R&D personnel, etc.)
  • Eco-innovation activities (this includes number of ISO 14001 certificates, the implementation of sustainable products among small to medium-sized enterprises, etc.)
  • Eco-innovation outputs (this includes sustainability-related patents, academic publications and media coverage, etc.)
  • Resource efficiency (this includes material, water and energy productivity, the intensity of GHG emissions, etc.)
  • Socio-economic outcomes (this includes export of products from sustainable industries, % of employment in environmental protection, etc.)

By collating the results, the experts working on the Eco-Innovation Index can identify the successes and drawbacks that some member states have had on their journeys towards green growth.

The purpose of this tool is not to shame or identify what countries may be failing in their efforts, but rather to provide a neutral and analytical view on the overall environmental, societal and economic situation in the EU member states.

A decade of progress

Since record-keeping began under this programme, the overall performance of the EU member states in eco-innovation steadily improved. Looking at the summaries of the results reported on the EU’s Eco-Innovation website, it can be seen that most improvements were seen in:

  • Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, especially when looking at energy productivity and efficiency
  • An increase in public awareness brought by intensified media coverage of topics that focused on eco-innovative processes and developments
  • An increase in investments in R&D research, which in certain states came from both public and private sources.

From the data it is evident that not all countries have had similar successes in advancing their environmental achievements over the past decade. The EU’s tool allows us to take an analytical look across all countries to monitor their developments and perhaps identify the drawbacks and bottlenecks that may be hindering further progress. Every year the organisation issues a new report with a list of leaders, average performers and countries that are catching up – and this list has slightly fluctuated year by year depending on that countries’ policies and advances. In 2021 the “Eco-Innovation Leaders” – the top 5 highest scoring member states – were Luxembourg, Finland, Austria, Denmark and Sweden.

The Eco-Innovation Index is not a solution to Europe’s green growth agenda – rather it serves more as an diagnostic tool that allows both the EU and national governments to identify potential areas of growth in order to evolve and innovate further. If you are interested, head to the Eco-Innovation website and have a look at the evolution of the Index’s performance in the 27 member states for yourself: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecoap/indicators/index_en

Sources:

The YEP MED training was carried out largely online using the Google Meet platform

148 students join the first YEP MED fully digital international training in Barcelona, Tunis, Civitavecchia and Beirut

The YEP MED training programme based on simulated enterprises allowed students to practice international trade operations using a real-life Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform

The first fully digital international training of the YEP MED (Youth Employment in the Ports of the MEDiterranean) project kicked-off last week in four different port communities: Barcelona, Tunis, Civitavecchia and Beirut. The training course finished on the 31st of May 2021. Each port community was responsible for bringing to life a simulated freight forwarding operator and execute international trade operations between the participating countries.

Thanks to the digital tools, a total of 148 students from the four port communities took part in this unique course. The global coordination and organisation of the project was overseen by the Escola Europea, lead partner of the project, whilst local project partners gave national level support. At the international level, participants could interact with students from other Mediterranean countries and support each other in the export operations they need to design, plan and manage as part of the training. Alongside having a widely international character, the student group also featured a high proportion of women in its midst – who formed around 41% of all participants. Making it easier for women to access employment in the Mediterranean transport sector is one of the key bastions of the YEP MED initiative.

This course was the first of the series of the 2nd stage of the YEP MED training. The first stage comprised vocational training (VT) courses that offered an introduction to port logistics and operations. This second stage gives the students an opportunity to gain practical experience and to gain a global understanding of the port-logistic operations first-hand through the use of a newly designed virtual platform that replicates a real port community in the virtual sphere. The students need to work together to design and prepare transport operations that freight forwarders regularly carry out by accessing the Port Virtual Lab. This virtual reality created by the Escola Europea allows students to interact with different companies that are involved in the process of an import / export operation: shippers of several industries as real-life substitute customers (Play Fine Fruits, Play Fine Clothing, Play Fine Cars, Play Fine Pharma, Play Machine Tools, and Play Chemicals), transport operators such as a shipping line, a rail operator or a haulier company (SDG Lines, Port Railway, Play Haulier), customs related entities such as customs brokers and customs administrations (Play Customs Agent and Play Smart Customs) and a Port Community System (MedTrade). You can find out more about these theoretical companies by going to the Port Virtual Lab site.

The Simulated Practice Enterprise is a methodological didactic strategy of “Learning by Doing” – through a digital lens. With the ERP system provided by Click & Cargo, the Escola Europea and its partners have worked to develop a digital environment that promotes simultaneous and integrated development of functional competencies of organisational management (social, human and business) based on a methodological-didactic simulation system that allows for contextualized and experiential knowledge. At the same time, the Click & Cargo system contributes to the vocational guidance of students and the employability of graduates through the creation of role-playing assessments and specific tasks representative of the world of work.

“From the point of view of knowledge to be transferred to the students, the training succeeded in achieving the objectives for which it was developed. The content of the sessions is very satisfactory insofar as it offers very varied technical knowledge to be able to use the Click and Cargo. Technical knowledge well founded by theoretical knowledge in international maritime trade techniques. On the educational level, the succession of sessions has been well studied ensuring the progression of the knowledge produced.” – Mr Anis Romdhani, lecturer from Tunis

An additional benefit of the YEP MED training courses is the unique benefit gleamed from the international community of teachers. Thanks to the collaboration of more than 30 teachers from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centres and professionals of the sector, the students were presented with a distinctively multicultural and very experienced teaching staff – which further added to the authenticity of the heterogenous Mediterranean training.

“In these two weeks, I had the opportunity to meet students from Beirut, Ortona, Barcelona and Tunis. We have learned how import and export shipping works through the Click&Cargo ERP platform. We have learned and increased our knowledge in the logistics sector with the collaboration of professionals who explained the different procedures and aspects. I found it very useful and interesting for the students who want to continue their career in the sector”. – Flavia di Capua, student from ITS Caboto (Italy)

These YEP MED VT2 and VT3 digital international training courses will take place over the early summer months, concluding before the autumn months and paving the way for the next stage of the training model – the integration of the successful participants in local companies through apprenticeships that will complete the dual training model.

For more information about the YEP MED project you can contact Concha Palacios from the project office at concha.palacios@portdebarcelona.cat or head to the website.

The panel at the press conference

The Escola Europea and Click&Cargo develop a virtual port to be used in simulation exercises

In the framework of the European YEP MED project, the agreement between the Escola Europea and the software development company Click&Cargo has been presented to the public on the 26th of May 2021.

Logos of the entities involved in the project

Participating in the event from the Escola Europea were its director Eduard Rodés and its Chief Business Officer Marta Miquel. The Project Manager from Click & Cargo, Valentina Salinas and the head of development Alex Rodriguez, alongside Marisa Clavero – a teacher from the Institut Lluïsa Cura, and Guillem Sardañés, CEO of the freight forwarding company eGlobe, also joined the press conference to explain the details of the agreement.

Eduard Rodés presented the YEP MED project and the PortVirtualLab.com platform, which will be used for the development of the training applications foreseen in the European project. YEP MED, funded by the ENI CBC Med programme, has a budget of 2.97 million euros and a planned duration of 30 months.

One of the main characteristics of the development of the project has been the close and fruitful collaboration of different organisations in the Barcelona Port Logistics Community, including: the Barcelona Port Authority, ATEIA, Institut Les Salines, Institut Lluïsa Cura, Click&Cargo and various private companies in the sector such as eGlobe.

Marta Miquel of the Escola Europea has highlighted that the agreement has already enabled training in the use of the platform for trainers from institutes and training centres in the 7 participating countries from the project: Spain, France, Italy, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. A total of 38 teachers specialised in International Trade from 12 training centres have been prepared to deliver the practice sessions in their respective centres and countries in the coming months.

Since last week, some of these trainers have already begun putting into practice what they have learned in a course that is being conducted online. 148 trainees from Spain, Italy, Tunisia and Lebanon are currently simulating project operations in the first course of this kind for students.

Valentina Salinas emphasised that the use of Click&Cargo as an ERP platform for the freight forwarding sector was the result of a public tender in which it obtained the best score for its technical features and ease of use. The proposed platform is fully accessible online and in English, which eliminates the barriers of distance and language in a sector where English is the lingua franca. The platform aims to integrate digitalisation processes, facilitating and automating the usual tasks of freight forwarding companies.

The co-founder and director of eGlobe, Guillem Sardañés, highlighted the speed and efficiency of the training that students receive in a relatively short time – achieving the same results in just a few weeks -something that normally require months of training. Sardañés highlighted the rapid process of digitalisation of freight forwarding companies and the need to have personnel prepared to face the challenges and changes that these processes entail. He also affirmed that the similarity of real-life operations to the simulated ones is amazing and proposed that the tool could also serve professionals active in the sector as an aid in digital transitions.

On behalf of the training institutes Marisa Clavero emphasised that the YEP MED programme and the PortVirtualLab.com platform have made it possible to go to the most minute levels of details in operations for the first time, which in practice means a simulation of the activities carried out in all levels of a company. She further emphasised the value of the students’ relations with the teams from the other countries, who act as corresponding agents in their respective countries during the exercises. The management of these relations, with the added complexity of dealing with different cultures, different languages and different visions, is a very valuable experience for the profile of a worker in a freight forwarding company, who is also a citizen of the world by the nature of his or her work.

Eduard Rodés pointed out that contact with other software companies in the sector has already begun, with the goal to extend training to other groups from the Port Logistics Community in the coming years and that the Escola Europea will work to facilitate the digitisation processes of all the actors involved in operations.

For more information on the YEP MED project you can contact Concha Palacios from the project office at concha.palacios@portdebarcelona.cat.